A Heritage of Innovation

HARTING North America

HARTING is a part of a company with a long-standing and storied history in the technology field. Innovation and creativity continue to drive its success.

When plugging in devices to one’s machine or any kind of industrial equipment, many people may not know about HARTING’s global role in the connectivity space; but HARTING USA is the North American subsidiary for the global company, HARTING Technology Group. Founded in 1945 and established its North America presence 27 years ago, in Hoffman Estates, Illinois near Chicago, the company has gained a strong foothold in building connectivity solutions for the industrial markets.

Now based in Elgin, Illinois, the company maintains a production facility and is one of only three of the Group’s facilities that design and produce backplane systems as well as customized cabling solutions.

President and CEO Jon DeSouza leads the North American division of HARTING, and manages sales of the company’s products in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

One of HARTING’s most notable inventions is the Han® Connector. The development of this product goes back to the post-World War II years in Germany. Engineer Wilhelm Harting and his wife founded their “Mechanical workshops” in Minden, Germany in 1945. During these early post-war years, the company produced items for daily use such as cooking plates, energy-saving lamps and electric irons. By the 1950s, Wilhelm Harting saw the need for developing connectors for the industrial markets.

Circular connectors were primarily used post the WW II years, but Harting figured he could improve the technology. With a background in production management in the aeronautical industry, he applied his experience into perfecting the connector.

“The rectangular shaped connector has become the most important, time-tested connector in the heavy-duty connector industry,” Mr. DeSouza says. “People view that connector and call it a HARTING Connector; they don’t call it anything else.”

This new product made HARTING a notable player in the worldwide technology market. With its versatility, high quality standards, reliability and large-scale production system, the Han® Connector enabled the company to gain a foothold throughout Europe.

Over the years, HARTING evolved to develop a number of products and technological innovations. Besides electrical and electronic connectors, HARTING has expanded its product line to include device terminations, backplane systems, network components, cable harnesses for networks and machinery, or for power and data application in factories.

Another product of note is the Han® modular solution with multiple inserts that customers can use in one connector. “That took us to another level because it allowed our clients to design and build a custom solution within a matter of hours,” explains Mr. DeSouza. “Instead of using five to six individual connectors, customers were now able to integrate power, signal and data requirements into one modular connector system. That really allows them to have the flexibility and ability to install a plug-and-play solution for their own equipment. The alternative to that would be to have multiple connectors or hard-wired connections, which would require sending technical resources to the field to rewire connections. That takes lots of time and resources. The Han® Modular system just lets our clients plug-and-play.”

HARTING’s products are used in sectors such as mechanical and plant engineering, broadcast and entertainment, factory automation, power generation and distribution; as well as industrial electronics, transportation and telecommunication. Worldwide, HARTING Technology Group currently holds more than 915 patents and 318 trademarks.

“From the beginning, the company has always thought about developing new technologies,” shares Mr. DeSouza. “We will never be a ‘me too’ company; we’re always looking for reliable, time-tested products that will allow our customers to accomplish what they need.”

To this end, HARTING has a variety of products for the sectors it serves. Its standard and modular inserts are designed for the industrial sector, meeting the harshest environments. The inserts were designed for applications that require a safe and removable electrical connection.

HARTING has also developed RFID technology to meet the needs of its customers’ harsh environments. Similar to the Wi-Fi technology that many consumers use to connect to the internet, RFID products enable companies to synchronize data from multiple objects without requiring direct line-of-sight like a barcode reader would require. Transponders can be used to store information, providing constant real-time data.

The company also develops middleware and software for companies, provides consulting and system integration services, and recently ventured into developing moulded interconnected 3D devices as well. “We’re not just selling products, we’re also in the business of solution selling.”

According to Mr. DeSouza, HARTING North America’s success is guided by its principles of “people, power, and partnership… Employees [People] are the foundation of our success,” he says. “‘Power’ represents our strength for innovation and appreciation for high quality products. ‘Partnerships’ are our customers and suppliers who work with us every day.”

HARTING’s vision is one that enables the company to look to the future while recognizing the heritage that has made the company what it is today. “We developed our vision in 1996 to shape the future with technologies for people, becoming a global company, and creating value for people,” Mr. DeSouza explains. “By following this vision, it will guarantee us success for the future.”

Indeed, these principles have helped the company stay successful, even in the most challenging of times. “We have hired the best people we can even during difficult economic conditions,” says Mr. DeSouza. “We’re always finding the best resources available to make customer solutions a reality. As long as we listen to our customers, we have the means, technology and resources to make the best solutions happen for them.”

To this end, HARTING has over 400 engineers focused on product development. This investment in people has resulted in setting and defining multiple global connectivity standards over nearly 70 years.

“We have to continue to innovate and invest in order to grow,” explains Mr. DeSouza. “Most of our products are created based on customer input – we have a system that enables us to log in all design requests. If we don’t have an immediate solution for our customers, we can design a custom product or potentially incorporate their requirements into our standard products. That’s what keeps us in the lead.”

The challenge for HARTING North America involves finding the right people to fulfill the company’s goals of innovation and expansion. “Our goal in North America is to triple revenue in the next six years. We have the solutions, but we must successfully introduce our technologies to the North American market. For that, we need to find the right people and skill set. At the same time, we cannot always wait for them to come to us, but develop and train our employees.”

The Group has partnered with schools and universities, and is constantly looking for seasoned professionals and developing new talent to fulfill this goal. “That’s not easy to do because it takes time to find and develop talented people, especially with the growth we’ve experienced in North America… But, we feel very good about the team and talent we’re consistently developing.”

HARTING also has training programs for its employees, and many are sent to the German headquarters for additional training and apprenticeships.

HARTING North America has seen a number of accomplishments over the last few years, including implementing AS9100 Quality certification in late 2012. “This allows our company to service our homeland security customers,” says Mr. DeSouza. The company has also received awards in energy efficiency and manufacturing excellence awards for best practices.

Future plans include investing in product videos and additional educational marketing materials for potential clients to research HARTING’s products. The company also plans to expand its presence through social networking platforms, trade shows, and its company website.

“We’re also looking into developing and building a customized van for roadshows, lunch and learn events across North America. We’re not a startup by any means, but many of our products and technologies are new to some engineers here in North America and the best way to showcase them is to take the show on the road.”

HARTING has recently launched the expansion of its Ethernet Switch product line at the Hannover Fair 2014 as well as its expansion of wire-to-board connectivity products. Additionally, the company demonstrated a “Smart factory” showcasing the capability to equip transport containers with RFID tags. The tags contain information describing the progress of production steps and are thus able to detect whether an order had been completely filled or whether parts were missing or if work steps had yet to be completed. In addition to this, a temperature threshold is stored in HARTING middleware and is compared with the actual measured temperature reading, with the value written to the transponder. Upon reaching a threshold value, an alarm is triggered in order to prevent subsequent containers from being exposed to elevated temperatures.

For over 60 years, HARTING Technologies has developed innovative products for the manufacturing and communications sectors. With the inroads and progress of the North American Division also making an impact since the 1980s, Mr. DeSouza sees a bright future for the company. “HARTING has made significant progress in the North American market,” he says. “We’ve doubled our revenue in the last four years. The economy hasn’t grown as much and we have outgrown our competitors as we continue to successfully introduce enabling technologies to the North American market.”

With its innovative products already making an impact in Europe and Asia, Mr. DeSouza says that now is the time for North America to see more of what HARTING has to offer. “When I look at our value proposition, specifically for the North American engineer, our key audience at this point, the message is quite simple… HARTING is the right company for problem solvers who need time-tested solutions. We bring unrivaled reliability and efficiency that makes our customers’ vision a reality and gives results without compromise.

“Our customers need products that are reliable, efficient, and time-tested; as a company, we have been able to provide them with the products they need.”

For more information about HARTING North America, please visit http://www.harting.ca/home/

August 17, 2017, 3:44 AM EDT

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